London International Mime Festival 2019

London International Mime Festival takes place this January and February at venues across London. The festival is a great showcase for the very best international contemporary visual theatre, with a programme incorporating cutting edge circus-theatre, mask, physical theatre, object theatre and puppetry from all over the world. This year’s programme features exciting new work from Gecko, Peeping Tom and Gandini Juggling & Alexander Whitley.

Mime all began in Greece, at the Theatre of Dionysus in Athens. Actors wore masks and performed outdoors, before audiences of 10,000 or more, at festivals to honour the God of theatre, Dionysus. When the Romans conquered Greece, they took mime back to Italy, and found ways to make it their own. This is when comedy and tragedy developed.

Mime continued to grow throughout the Middle Ages, and in Italy early 1500's, Commedia dell'Arte emerged. Acrobatic street performers began wearing masks with exaggerated comical features, made to draw attention to the performers. The characters they created became known as Zanni. In 1576, a company of Italians led by Flamino Scala travelled to France, where mime became extremely popular. 

Nearly two and a half centuries later, in 1811, Jean Gaspard Batiste Deburau - an acrobatic street performer - introduced the lovesick  character Pierrot to French theatre, which changed mime from what it was then to the art form it is known as today. After the WWI, many other famous mime artists found fame, including Charles Dullin, Etienne Decroux and Jean-Louis Barrault, with Marcel Marceau coming around after WWII. 

The silent film era began in the 1890s, before it was replaced by 'talking film' in the late 1920s. A lot of the time in silent films they used title cards so they could tell the viewers what was happening in more detail.


Edinburgh Fringe session to help performers with anxiety

A free workshop for performers suffering from anxiety will be held at this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe and explore how breathing exercises can help them overcome their nerves.

Conquering Performance Anxiety will take place on August 20 at Fringe Central. It is being run by GP Pippa Wheble in association with Equity. Wheble is also a trainer in a technique known as Transformational Breath, which helps actors “open up the full potential of their breathing system for better physical and emotional well-being”.

The workshop comes after performers opened up about the impact anxiety has had on their careers, including Broadway star Patti Murin. West End actors including Caroline Sheen and Jodie Jacobs have revealed their battles with anxiety in a bid to encourage more industry conversations around mental health.

They have been joined by actors including Savannah Stevenson, best known for her roles in Wicked and Chariots of Fire, and Danny Colligan, who was in The Book of Mormon. All have revealed the struggles they have faced with anxiety and the impact this has had on their careers, and have urged the industry to do more to support sufferers.

The workshop will explore “why anxiety is good for us as performers” but also the problems that can then occur. “I will talk about how breathing can be a really direct tool for managing anxiety in those performance situations and techniques that can help with that,” she said, adding that actors will also take part in a practical taster session of Transformational Breath.

Aldgate Square Festival Theatre and Performance Workshops

Aldgate Square Festival is a fun-filled community celebration of all that Aldgate, and surrounds, has to offer. It will include a vibrant spectrum of music, dance, performance, food, games and theatre from around the East End and beyond, mirroring the cultural wealth of this fantastic area. 

Aldgate Square Festival is launching the new public square between 15th – 17th June 2018. The weekend will represent a creative collaboration between myriad groups, organisations; arts,educational and religious centres, businesses and individuals, showcasing the immensity of talent which resides in this unique corner of the capital, as well as the strength of its history.

The festival is the evolution of a Community Play project that was commissioned by the City of London in 2016, and which has been developing since. The community theatre elements of the festival will be drawing from the script which has been written by Artistic Director and Playwright, Jon Oram, in collaboration with community members and archives from across the area. The script is based on the history of, and social reform within Aldgate and the surrounding area. 

In the lead up to the festival, we are running a programme of theatre and performance workshops, a series of weekly workshops which will feed into performances at the festival. For all information, please contact Laura.Ratling@cityoflondon.gov.uk

West Yorkshire Playhouse a vision of Vital Theatre

From the beginning it was clear that the new West Yorkshire Playhouse was going to be more than just a performing space.  In the first 6 years of operation the Playhouse produced 93 of its own productions encompassing classics and contemporary British and European drama, modern theatre from around the world and had implemented a vigorous new writing policy.

Ian Brown succeeded Jude Kelly as Artistic Director in 2002 and brought with him a commitment to continue the vital and established role that the Playhouse was playing in the community.  Under his leadership the Playhouse maintained its pioneering community engagement work and  gained a reputation for the quality and mix of its work.

Following Ian’s departure in 2012 he was succeeded by James Brining.  Although Leeds-born, James arrived via Richmond and Dundee.  With new-found vigour the Playhouse continues to develop and expand on the vision of Vital Theatre.

The Playhouse has two theatres, the Quarry with 750 seats and the smaller, more flexible Courtyard with 350 seats.  However its reach goes far beyond those two spaces; over the 2015 autumn season its work will be seen in over 60 venues from village halls (Beryl on tour) to Wales Millennium Centre (Sweeney Todd). In recent years plays have been taken out into the local community with Little Sure Shot and Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads being presented in community centres around the city.

51 years on from Doreen Newlyn’s notice to the Arts Council and 25 years on from the opening of the new building, the Playhouse remains as strong as ever, producing great theatre for, and by, its communities in the heart of the city of Leeds, West Yorkshire and the UK.


The Market Theatre Johannesburg is back in the UK!

The Suitcase brings together a unique partnership of venues in the North of England and the Market Theatre Johannesburg, marking the internationally renowned theatre company’s return to the UK after a five year absence. This partnership, the first of its kind, enables international work to be performed across five northern cities, sharing programming and strengthening audience development. The tour has been made possible through National Lottery Funding from Arts Council England’s Strategic Touring programme.

It’s a story never more relevant to our time, exploring issues of identity, migration, exile and celebration of the human spirit. The show will have its UK premiere at Hull Truck Theatre (31 August–9 September) as part of Hull UK City of Culture 2017’s Freedom season before touring to Newcastle (14-16 September), Derby (20-23 September), Lancaster (27-29 September) and Liverpool (4-7 October).

The Market Theatre, founded in Johannesburg in 1976 by Mannie Manim and the late Barney Simon, was constructed out of Johannesburg’s Indian Fruit Market – built in 1913. The theatre went on to become internationally renowned as South Africa’s “Theatre of the Struggle”. The Market Theatre challenged the apartheid regime, armed with little more than the conviction that culture can change society. The strength and truth of that conviction was acknowledged in 1995 when the theatre received the American Jujamcyn Award. In providing a voice to the voiceless, The Market Theatre did not forego artistic excellence, but, rather, made a point of it. Its twenty-one international and over three hundred South African theatre awards bears eloquent testimony to the courage and artistic quality of its work.

During the past four decades, The Market Theatre has evolved into a cultural complex for theatre, music, dance and the allied arts. Today, The Market Theatre remains at the forefront of South African theatre, actively encouraging new works that continue to reach international stages. The Market Theatre is renowned world-wide for brilliant anti-apartheid plays that have included Woza Albert, Asinamali, Bopha, Sophiatown, You Strike the Woman You Strike a Rock, Born in the RSA, Black Dog – Inj’emnyama, as well as the premieres of many of Athol Fugard’s award-winning dramas. The Market Theatre’s history is intertwined with the cultural, social and political struggle for freedom in South Africa.

The Market Theatre is celebrating the past, but it is also confidently looking forward to playing a major cultural role in the 21st century for South Africa, and the African continent. To achieve this, The Market’s artistic policy for a post-apartheid South Africa centres on encouraging new dramatic writing. These new works will offer ways to help South Africans understand, interpret and thrive in the second decade of the country’s new democratic life. The Market must continue to be a theatre that is engaged, challenging and entertaining. The staff remains committed to maintaining the highest possible artistic standards as it searches out exemplary new writing, and the best new, young directors, designers and lighting designers to achieve this mission. The Market Theatre is determined to build on its reputation, even as it faces the new challenges of the 21st Century.




71e Festival d'Avignon, Theatre and Performing Arts

The Avignon festival founded in 1947 by Jean Villar is one of the oldest and most famous theatre and performing arts festivals in the world. Festival performances take place throughout three entire weeks in July and feature the best playwrights and actors working in contemporary creations. The director of the festival, author, director and actor Olivier Py designed a Festival for the people, a celebration of the mind, the desire to hear from a new generation of artists.

The Festival d'Avignon is the place where artists with many different aesthetics come together and present, discuss and share their vision. Different origins, different backgrounds and generations, all on stage and behind the scenes during the Festival, where avant-garde and tradition co-exist. Over 40 different plays are performed in more than twenty venues, from small, 150-seat chapels to the 2000-seat legendary Honour Courtyard in the Palace of the Popes, and now the FabricA, a year round Festival venue. 

Hortense Archambault and Vincent Baudriller, appointed Festival directors in 2003, located the Festival offices in Avignon to provide it with deep local roots. Since September 2013, the new director Olivier Py - author, director and actor - continues this approach. Olivier Py seeks a Festival which is both for the people and a celebration of the mind. In addition to the performing arts, the Festival is the place for exchange, discussion and confrontation of ideas, with conferences, interviews, shows, cinema, music and other arts. 



Festival VOILA Europe 2017 Cockpit Theatre London

The Cockpit theatre is excited to announce the OPEN CALL for this year's festival. Calling all multilingual troubadours, travelling minstrels, intercultural creatives, linguistic explorers, juggling polyglots, translated artists, cross-nation activists, and European theatre companies!

For its 5th years VOILA! Festival becomes VOILA! Europe and will be bigger and bolder than ever. VOILA! Europe is a non Brexit-fearing festival whose mission is to bust the barriers of language and showcase plays from around Europe & the UK to the multi-national audiences of London. 

From new writing from emerging artists to classics revisited by well-loved companies, VOILA! celebrates diversity in performing arts, multiple languages and fearless creatives. No passport required. Broadening out from being a francophone festival to include more languages spoken on the European continent, and spending from one theatre to other venues in the city, VOILA! will program more work and provide additional platforms for exchange in the arts.

They are looking for shows in multiple languages, or translated/adapted from plays originally in a European language, as well as new writing with cast and creatives from the European continent. They accept all genres of shows (music, theatre, performance art, dance), provided they are less than 60 minutes long. 

VOILA! Europe will take place in London 8-18 November 2017 at the Cockpit, Etcetera Theatre Camden and more venues to be announced. The festival will provide 2 or 3 performance slots in one of the festival venues with production and technical assistance, printed brochures, a professional PR and online marketing in exchange for a 50% box office split and a £70 admin fee.



Moscow's Acclaimed Sovremennik Theatre

Russia's oldest theatre company Sovremennik Theatre makes a welcome come back to London this May, following a successful season at the Noël Award Theatre in 2011, with a triple bill of plays at the Piccadilly Theatre. Three Comrades, Two for the Sea-Saw and the Three Sisters will be performed in Russian with English subtitles and directed by the Sovremennik's artistic director Galina Volchek, one of the founding members of the company and regarded as one of Russia's greatest theatre practitioners. 

The Sovremennik is one of Russia's most respected theatre companies, recognised around the world for its tradition of staging intense psychological dramas and bold productions of contemporary plays, Russian classics and international works. The London season will feature a cast and crew of over 100 including acclaimed Russian film, theatre and television actress and humanitarian Chulpan Kahmatova.

The season begins on 3 May with Three Comrades, based on the 1936 novel by acclaimed German author Erich Maria Remarque. Set in Germany at the height of depression, it tells the story of Robert Lohkamp, a disillusioned figure whose outlook on life is marred by his horrifying experiences in the trenches during the First World War. He shares his memories with his friends with who he struggles to make a living as  a mechanic. But when Robert meets a mysterious young woman, his nihilistic perspective starts to shift..

This is followed on 8 May by a Russian twist on the poignant and compelling American drama Two for the Sea-Saw by William Gibson. The season concludes with the return of the Sovremennik 'revelatory' production of Anton Chekov's The Three Sisters. Critically acclaimed around the world, this production is regarded as one of the seminal versions of Chekov's classic tale.

Riotous Company Theatre of Stories

Riotous Company is a crossover theatre of stories, music, pictures, poetry and dance founded by artistic director Mia Theil Have in close collaboration with patron Kathryn Hunter, composer Nikola Kodjabashia, designer Luis F. Carvalho comprising a collective of artists and associates.

Riotious Company is committed to and experienced in giving workshops for young people and professional practitioners internationally as part of rehearsal periods and touring activities. Riotious invites young associates to become part of the company and learn through apprenticeship. 

Step by Step by Step is an entertaining in-depth work demonstration performance on actor's training and dramaturgy. it gives a look behind the scenes, into the early formation of the actor and the laborious journey to the stage performances. 

Riotous is an associate company of Third Theatre Network through Manchester Metropolitan University. Their Have features as a practitioner in publications by professor Adam Ledger, as well as new research by professors Jane Turner and Patrick Campbell.

Christmas Pantomimes in London

The Pantomime or Panto is a kind of musical comedy stage production, designed for family entertainment. It was developed in England and is performed throughout the United Kingdom, generally during the Christmas and New Year season. 

Modern pantomimes include songs, gags, slapstick comedy and dancing, employ gender-crossing actors, and combine topical humour and a story loosely based on a well-known fairy-tale, fable or folk-tale. it is a participatory form of theatre, in which the audience is expected to sing along with certain part of the music and shout out phrases to the performers.

Pantomime has a long theatrical history in the Western culture dating back to classical theatre, and it developed partly from the 16th-century Italian tradition of commedia dell'arte, as well as others European and British stage traditions such as 17th-century masques and music hall.

A contemporary pantomime stage tradition is the celebrity guest star. Many modern pantomime use popular artists to promote the show, and the play is often adapted to allow the star to showcase their well-known act, even when such a spot has little relation to the main plot!

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